Be sure to check out the voting for Group A, Group B and Group C. Onto Group D: Costa Rica, England, Italy and Uruguay. Someone is going to go home disappointed. Costa Rica: For being a relatively small nation, Costa Rica is full of volcanic wonders. Arenal, Poas, Irazu, Turrialba and Rincon de la Vieja have all erupted over the past few decades. All this volcanism is caused by the subduction of the Cocos Plate under the Caribbean Plate -- this process produces all the volcanoes between Guatemala and northern Panama. Up until recently, Arenal was in almost constant eruption and tourist could marvel at the activity from across the lake. Over the last few years, Arenal (see below) has been quiet but the long history of frequent eruptions suggests that it might not stay that way for much longer.
Arenal in Costa, with a wispy gas plume, seen on September 20, 2004.
Shmuel Spiegelman / Wikimedia Commons England: This one is tricky. Do the colonies of the United Kingdom count for England? They probably shouldn't as England has chosen to play in the World Cup separate from Scotland and Wales (as apparently English and Scottish football predate the formation of FIFA). This means all those protectorates and such other there really shouldn't add into the English volcano squad (sorry, Soufrière Hills). We could count the "London Volcano" that went off last week, but that was a manmade feature, so does that really count? The best I could find on true English soil might by the Borrowdale Volcanic Group. Don't get me wrong, these are old volcanoes in the Lakes District, dating back to the Carboniferous over 290 million years ago. However, they are chock full of the products of arc volcanism (like the Cascades), so they get to represent the three lions.
The crags formed from volcanic deposits of the Barrowdale Volcanic Group, below Hart Knott in England.
Anne Burgess Italy: To say that Italy got an easy draw for the Volcano World Cup would be an understatement. Beyond Costa Rica, the other two nations really don't have any active volcanoes to boast. Italy, however, has some of the most active (and impressively active) volcanoes on the planet. Case in point, Etna on the island of Sicily, who decided to mark the start of the World Cup with some impressive fireworks of her own, producing a lava fountain and lava flows that stretch down the flanks of the volcano (see below). Hard to imagine anyone could upset Italy in Group D.
Strombolian lava fountain and lava flows from Etna on Sicily, seen on June 16, 2014.
Dr. Boris Behncke / Flickr Uruguay: Much like the other nations occupying the eastern shores of South America, Uruguay does not have anything in the way of active volcanism. Much of the country is plains and really the only vestiges of volcanism (see below) are remnants of the Paraná flood basalts that spread across the region ~135 million years ago. These flood basalts were part of the initial opening of the southern Atlantic basin, so at the time, Uruguay would have been one of the most volcanically active places on Earth. However, today, only scant pieces of the massive lava flows remain (at like in Uruguay).
Cerro Batoví in Uruguay, a butte capped with the Parana flood basalt.
Tano4595 / Wikimedia Commons Select the two nations you think should move onto the Round of 16 in the Volcano World Cup. Voting will be open until June 26 at noon eastern time: